Dear North Smithfield Families and Staff,
We are excited to have our students returning and we are hopeful that we will be allowed to focus on what we do best, creating an active and vibrant learning environment and teaching kids.
We understand there is disagreement and resistance to the Governor’s masking requirement in school. Just as there is a federal masking requirement to board and remain on a bus, train, or plane, there is a state requirement to wear a mask to enter and remain in a school.
As individuals, schools, and as a district, we cannot pick and choose the laws and policies we want to follow. For example, an athlete cannot decide on his or her own to waive personal safety equipment required by the Interscholastic League. A high school can not waive graduation requirements defined by the Board of Regents and still issue a diploma. Similarly, a district cannot waive a governmental executive order.
As a result, we cannot allow anyone in a school or classroom without a mask. This is the same requirement we followed throughout the last school year.
For COVID Specifically, we are required to adhere to:
RIDOH PreK-12 Outbreak Response Protocols: https://www.back2schoolri.com/what-you-need-to-know/
Executive Order 21-87 Requiring Masks in School: https://governor.ri.gov/executive-orders/executive-order-21-87
For those who strongly disagree with wearing a mask, please understand that schools must follow state and federal laws, policies, and requirements. You can certainly continue to voice your opinions with your elected officials, but understand that as principals, teachers, instructional assistants, nurses, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers, and kitchen workers, we do not have the individual or collective means to waive or ignore this requirement.
For our kids, the start of school carries a mixture of nervousness and excitement. The entire NSPS staff remains hopeful that we as a community can fuel their excitement to be all in, in-person, and among all their friends. We also have school counselors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers ready to provide support and counseling services to students who may be struggling with COVID-related and any other issues and concerns.
Let’s have a positive school opening and ensure that our first days and weeks will set the tone for a successful year ahead.
Michael St. Jean, Superintendent